How Do I Know If I Passed My Background Check?

Last Updated:
April 7, 2023

Waiting for the results of a background check can be stressful and difficult, especially if you are hoping to get the job of your dreams. Unfortunately, background checks can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or even longer. You might not know if you’ve passed your background check until quite a while has passed.

So, how do you know if you passed your background check? Let’s take a look at the answer to this question and more.

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Background checks are standard investigatory procedures that involve hiring a third-party background check agency to look into a job candidate’s job history, criminal records, and more. Background checks can be relatively simple or comprehensive and in-depth. How long it takes will depend on what the employer needs from the background check agency.

For example, a background check for a rideshare company like Uber will usually take a handful of days or up to two weeks on average. In contrast, a background check for a government position, like an FBI agent, may take several more weeks or even a few months.

Bottom line: background checks usually take up to five business days to complete if everything goes smoothly. If you don't pass your background check, you should receive notice about that decision quickly. Ironically, if you pass your background check, you may not actually hear anything from your employer! 

How to Know if You Passed Your Background Check

Generally, employers will be quick to process you through their systems if they’ve accepted you for a job and you passed the background check with flying colors. In these cases, they may not alert you as to the status of your background check; simply receiving a job offer or being able to start with your first day at a new company is enough of a sign that you passed.

That said, you may want to know with certainty whether you passed a background check. That way, you can make sure that inaccurate information doesn't affect the hiring decision. Fortunately, there are several ways to know if you passed a background check.

Check the Background Check Company’s Website

Firstly, you can investigate the background check company’s website. Each background check agency used by corporations maintains an online website and database. Most of these agencies offer background screening check tools, which allow you to input your first and last name (and possibly some extra information) to receive an update on the status of your screening.

If you don’t know which background check agency is responsible for your investigation, ask your employer about it. Your employer may also provide this information as part of your new employee onboarding paperwork or package (although this can vary).

Ask Your Employer

Of course, you can also ask your employer upfront whether you passed your background check. This may not be necessary if you have received a job offer, but it never hurts to double-check and make sure that everything went swimmingly.

It’s also a good idea to ask your employer about the status of your background check if you have waited for several weeks. Your employer is in a better position to inquire at the background check agency – after all, your employer has a vested interest in your background check completing quickly.

If the agency is having issues, your employer may be able to communicate with the agency and figure out what’s going wrong. Then they can give you an update on the status of your background check personally.

Wait for a Decision or Adverse Action Notice

Alternatively, you may simply wish to wait for a decision or an adverse action notice.

If your employer offers you a job or decides to complete the hiring process, you know that you passed your background check or, if there was negative information, it wasn’t enough to dissuade your employer from giving you the position.

An adverse action notice, on the other hand, is a special document explaining that you were denied employment opportunity on the basis of some part of your background check information. Employers are legally required to provide you with an adverse action notice if they deny you employment because of your background check results.

For example, say that you submit to a background check, but the background check agency reports erroneous or false information about a previous criminal conviction. In light of this information, your prospective employer decides not to go through with a job offer. Your employer has to tell you that so you are able to investigate if needed.

Under the terms of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can then use the information in the adverse action notice to file a dispute letter with the background checking company. You can also take other steps, such as suing the background check agency, if necessary.

Waiting for a decision or adverse action notice takes power out of your hands, however. Remember, sometimes background checks can be delayed, and if you wait for weeks, you might give up other opportunities to seek out gainful employment elsewhere.

If You Passed Your Background Check…

If you passed your background check, you should know relatively quickly. Most successful background checks resolve over a few business days. That’s because many background check agencies only have to delay their investigations if they have to look for potential negative or complex information.

For instance, if a background check agency discovers that you may have had one or more criminal convictions, it will have to spend extra time diving into court or county records to determine the nature of those convictions.

So if you receive a job offer quickly after submitting to a background check, odds are that everything went smoothly.

If You Didn’t Pass Your Background Check…

Things can get a little more complex if you don’t pass your background check.

If you don’t immediately pass your background check, the third-party checking agency may spend a little more time verifying its information, especially if it is of a negative nature. Background check companies don’t attempt to use false information on purpose. Therefore, if they discover something like a criminal conviction, they will investigate thoroughly to make sure they don’t make a mistake.

Furthermore, you may not receive your background check results immediately if you don’t initially pass. That’s because companies are still allowed to hire individuals who don’t pass background checks.

Say that you want to work for a rideshare company, and your background check shows that you have never had a DUI or speeding ticket in your life. However, you did have a previous misdemeanor conviction 10 years previously. The rideshare company might determine that the misdemeanor conviction doesn't affect your ability to drive a vehicle, nor does it reflect on your current responsibility.

Still, the company has to decide this, so it may take some time to determine what to do if it receives negative information from your background screening.

If a company receives negative information from your background check and decides to reconsider its decision to hire you, it has to give you a pre-adverse action notice. A pre-adverse action notice is a shorter piece of paperwork detailing that the company is thinking over its decision to hire you in light of background check results.

Then, if the company decides to go through with denying you a job offer, it has to give you a full adverse action notice.

What if a Company Doesn’t Provide an Adverse Action Notice?

If an organization doesn't provide an adverse action notice to you, but still rescinds a job offer, it's in violation of the FCRA. All consumers are entitled to adverse action notices if they are denied employment on the basis of credit or background information, no matter what.

However, remember that a company doesn’t have to provide you with an adverse action notice if they decide not to offer you employment on some other basis. For instance, if the company interviewed another candidate with better qualifications, the company is allowed to go with the other candidate without notifying you in any major way.

Still, you may suspect that your background check results were the cause of your job offer denial if your background check takes a longer amount of time than average. If that happens, inquire with your prospective employer and ask for an adverse action notice. You need the notice in order to successfully dispute background check information.

Can You Pass a Background Check After Failing It Initially?

You can, although it requires filing a dispute with a third-party background check agency.

A background check dispute is a letter that you can write electronically or by hand, then send to the background check agency in question. In the letter, you need to detail:

  • Which information you believe to be erroneous, inaccurate, or out of date
  • A request stating that you want the background check agency to correct the inaccurate information and notify your prospective employer

Once you send a background check company a dispute letter, it is legally required to investigate the matter within 30 business days. Then, after coming to a decision one way or the other, the background check company has to alert you about the decision within five business days.

For example, say that you receive an adverse action letter from an employer citing a previous criminal conviction as a reason not to hire you. You know that you are never convicted of a crime, so the background check agency made a mistake. You file a dispute letter with the background check company to get the matter fixed ASAP.

At the same time, you can contact your employer and tell them that you are disputing the erroneous information. Fortunately, your company is then legally required to hold off on hiring anyone else if it was planning to hire you were it not for the background information.

If the background check company performs an investigation and discovers the mistake, it can fix the matter and notify your prospective employer immediately. When that happens, you may receive a job offer and “pass” your background check after the fact.

Who to Contact About Background Check Errors

It’s much easier to file a dispute letter and get inaccurate information corrected with knowledgeable legal representatives on your side. Background check error attorneys, such as Fair Credit, can help you through the process in a variety of ways.

  • Firstly, we can help you gather evidence proving that the inaccurate background information in question is in fact erroneous. That can be invaluable when trying to get a background check agency to fix a mistake
  • Next, we can ensure that you file your dispute letter on time and in the right format. That will reduce the likelihood that the background check company will request additional information or will take too long to complete its investigation
  • If the background check company violates the FCRA, such as by not performing an investigation or not correcting inaccurate information, we can explain your other legal options

If your rights are being violated, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. A successful lawsuit may yield up to $1000 in damages, in addition to further compensation to help you pay for attorney fees and related expenses. That said, lawsuits are never open and shut, even if you have a lot of evidence on your side. Be sure to work with experienced attorneys to maximize your chances of seeing a successful outcome.


You can know if you passed your background check by waiting for a response from the background check agency or your prospective employer. Alternatively, you can usually use online tools to check the status of your background check on a background check agency’s website.

If you think your background check has been delayed, or if you haven’t been alerted as to its results, you may have grounds for a lawsuit if the agency has breached the FCRA. For more information, contact Fair Credit today.

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